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Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori


It is important for us to know that the corpse of a Muslim is as honourable as his or her body when he or she is alive. The corpse of a Muslim is dignified. It must not not be, abused, molested or mutilated. It must be well preserved and buried with nobility. 

But truth must be told, the way some corpses are being handled at some of our cemeteries needs to be checked critically. The most popular cemetery in Ilorin today is the one behind the 'Eid Praying Ground. It was achieved with the outstanding effort of Prof. Abubakar Aliagan حفظه الله. Anytime I appear at that cemetery for funeral rites, I usually pray for him  because it is a gigantic project that will last forever. It is a form of sadqatun jāriyah (everlasting charity) for him and those who supported him on that project. May reward them all with Aljannah Firdaus.

Having noted this, I think it is high time we come together as one ummah to do many things together. We need to restructure the mode of operation of our cemeteries in Ilorin. Specifically, our cemetery behind the Eid needs urgent attention. Except for those who are ready to pay to secure a fresh space of land large enough and take their time to dig an ideal grave, the way some of our corpses are being buried needs to be well checked. 

Many of us have visited the cemetery many times to find out that the graves are often too narrow for us to bury our deceased dear ones. And when you attempt to dig further, the next thing you will hear from the officer in charge is, "be careful, otherwise you will encroach another grave just beside it". What we do these days is not too far from burying the dead bodies together because of the shortness of the graves and their proximity. Should there not be enough space between a grave and another?

These days, corpses are not well secured in our cemeteries. They are buried in a way that could make it easy for criminals who deal in human parts to have access to them. They are not well protected against heavy flooding that are unpredictable. Wallahi, this calls for great concern. Sometimes, after burying our corpses, we return home in tears not only because we have lost a dear one but because of how they are being squeezed inside the narrow pits because we think we do not have a choice😭. Apart from this, many corpses are not usually well clothed. Yesterday, we were at the Muslim Cemetery, Ilorin to bury a very close one. May Allāh forgive and have mercy on her. It was the same experience as usual, nothing has changed. 

Let us all remember that we are also going to die one day. We should not watch the situation to continue like this. We should not return to the old way of burying corpses at home because that is not a good option. The best place to bury the dead is still cemetery but we have to be well organized.

There are some germane questions begging for answers that our scholars, philanthropists and students of knowledge need to answer as fast as possible:

1. Is it permissible to have a cemetery arrangement by which a grave will be numbered so that one can permanently identify the spot a dear one is buried forever? I am aware the graves of the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and some of his companions رضي الله عنهم are well preserved till today. While it is very important to prevent grave worship by all means, is there no way by which someone can identify where his deceased relatives are buried? 

2. Is it permissible under the sharī'ah to allocate well dug and prepared space for corpses as they are brought to the cemetery? Then, is it permissible to close a cemetery permanently once the spaces in it are exhausted and get another land in another place for the same purpose? The cemetery behind Ilorin 'Eid Praying Ground is already filled. We all know this. The extension that was created has also been exhausted. Is it possible or permissible to close that place permanently just for visitation purpose while we continue to maintain it? I am aware that Prof. Aliagan is working on another land mass, what is the state of the land and why have we not started using it?

3. Can we have more cemeteries to be championed by individuals and corporate Islamic organizations? I heard there is one at Sango and another at Oko-Olowo. How much have we been making best use of them? There is still need for more options. People are dying everyday. It will be our turn one day too. Let us be prepared. 

May Allāh reward our philanthropists who have been spending on the maintenance of the Ilorin Muslim Cemetery and other cemeteries. We know some of them, we don't need to mention names. However, this exercise should not be left in hands of the rich alone, we should all contribute whatever we have on this. No amount is too small. Let us not only be busy constructing multi million naira mansions that we would later vacate one day and neglect our house (grave) where we would be till the Day of Resurrection.

4. Can we have a well organized foundation (NGO) for the maintenance and administration of our cemeteries? This work is for the Ummah. It is beyond the capacity of any individual. It is the collective responsibility of the entire Muslim Ummah. It should not be left in the hand of a single person because it can be overwhelming. 

The foundation to be registered under Part C of CAMA will be the one to employ and remunerate those who are knowledgeable to supervise funeral activities at the cemetery including allocation and correct digging of graves. They will be the one to guide people with Sunnah and caution them against bid'ah. The cemetery should not be turned to an avenue for beggary. We should fashion out mechanism through which funds can be generated towards these tasks. 

5. I am aware Dr. Abdullahi Saliu Ishola of the Department of Islamic Law, Kwara State University, Malete wrote his PhD thesis on Waqf (Endowment) with specific focus on maintenance of cemetery. Our researches are not meant to be shelved. They are to be implemented. Can we organize a conference on this and seek a way forward?

May Allāh make it easy

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